Hadley to launch lighting celebration

  • Hadley will launch a new Celebration of Light’s ceremony on Dec. 8 at Hopkins Memorial Park next to the gazebo, pictured here, at Hopkins Academy. Gazette file photo

Staff Writer
Monday, December 04, 2017

Editor’s note: This story was changed on Monday, Dec. 4, to correct the date of this event to Saturday, Dec. 9.

HADLEY — Florence has the Florence Holiday Parade, Hatfield the Luminarium and Amherst the Merry Maple.

Next week’s Celebration of Lights could become Hadley’s annual way of marking the holiday season.

The inaugural event, organized by the Edward Hopkins Education Foundation, takes place at Hopkins Memorial Park, next to the gazebo at Hopkins Academy, on Saturday, Dec. 9, at 6 p.m., with a snow date set for Dec. 10.

“It’s what we’re calling a community event,” said Kathy Tudryn, president of the education foundation established in 2014 during the 350th anniversary of Hopkins Academy. “The goal is for this Celebration of Lights to become an event that will happen every year, and hopefully will grow.”

The main feature, as the event’s title implies, is the lighting, appropriate for the nondenominational event, Tudryn said, because all faiths incorporate light in some form to their seasonal celebrations.

Tudryn said a living tree will be lit. The tree is being donated by Marianne Wanczyk in memory of her husband Peter Wanczyk, the late owner of Wanczyk Nursery, who died in 2014.

Additional lights will be strung on portions of the gazebo, which houses the bell once housed in Russell School Building.

The event will also include caroling by the Hadley Elementary and Hopkins Academy chorale groups under the direction of Marilyn Brayne and Evan Bartlett.

The Hadley Fire Department will have an engine to illuminate the grounds and will accept unwrapped toys to be donated to Shriner’s Hospital and Baystate Children’s Hospital.

After singing and lighting, refreshments provided by Barstow’s Dairy Store and Bakery, North Hadley Sugar Shack and Market and Dunkin’ Donuts of Hadley, will be available.

The lights, donated by Home Depot, will be turned on daily through Jan. 1, Tudryn said.

The event will also serve to publicize the work of the foundation, which annually gives $500 grants to both schools.

In the first year, these grants allowed staff at Hadley Elementary to purchase library materials and Hopkins Academy to acquire a 3-D printer. This was followed in the second year by Hadley Elementary buying a playground cart and supplies, including balls and hula hoops, while Hopkins Academy invested in professional development to integrate the 3-D printer into the curriculum. The elementary school this year is using a grant to create a “makers space” and buy consumable supplies used in robotics.

As the fund continues to grow, teachers will be able to apply for grants for specific projects, Tudryn said.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.